Living with Lions – Find your Motivation

Lions Team

Although running and cycling are my main pastimes, my favourite team sport is Rugby.

Currently down in New Zealand the British and Irish Lions are preparing for the First Test match on Saturday against the back to back World Champions.

To the uninitiated, every 4 years a squad of rugby players are selected from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales to go on a 7-8 week tour to either Australia, South Africa or New Zealand. They play a number of matches against club and regional sides and culminates in 3 Tests against the hosts. Most rugby players see being picked to be in a Lions squad and playing a test match as the pinnacle of their career.

I didn’t know much about the Lions until 1997 when they toured South Africa. My interest was sparked by a friend of mine, who had a South Africa friend who was obsessed with the Springboks (South Africa national side) and his enthusiasm was infectious.

1997 was the first tour to South Africa since the lifting of Apartheid and the first in the professional era. Rugby had turned professional in the 1995/96 season.

Two guys had an idea in a pub. The idea was to go and film a fly on the wall documentary about this tour and ending up creating what Tom Fordyce, the BBCs Chief Sports Writer called

“The greatest sports documentary of all time”

The result was Living with Lions. I think I first saw this on VHS. I’ve watched it many times and can quote many of the quotable lines and my passion for the Lions lives on.

This had never been done before. Cameras inside the dressing rooms, players filming themselves, mic’d up coaches, seeing the nights out. There is the old adage –

“What goes on tour stays on tour”

These guys were filming the tour!

The Lions were big underdogs. The Springboks had won the World Cup in 1995. The documentary shows the intensity of international rugby, the injuries, nerves, fears, emotion and heartbreak. How special moments that are shared as a team are and how teams bond together.

As well as the great rugby that was played, what Living with Lions is best known for is the speeches. These are real goosebumps stuff. Make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Speeches that make you think you could run through a wall.

Though the speeches are being delivered to a team about to go out and play rugby, they are many things that can be taken from them. Being honest with yourself and finding your own motivation. Here are three of the iconic ones. Pleased be warned – the videos do contain swearing.

Jim Telfer –  Honesty Speech

Jim Telfer – Everest Speech

Ian McGeechan – You’re Special Speech (THE LOOK)

There’s a podcast and article with the directors and cameramen and some of the players about the making of the documentary that is well worth listening to. You may not be a rugby fan, (it’s mainly not about the on-field action) but if you’re a sports fan or an athlete, Living with Lions is a must watch showing the drive and intensity of what it takes to win.

The best of luck to the Lions! The 1st Test match of the 2017 tour kicks off on Saturday 24th June 2017 at 08:30 am (BST) followed by the remains tests at the same time on the following weeks. I will definitely be watching.

The Lions also have a very good YouTube channel with lots of past and present content.

Heart Rate – Does it help your running?

Heart Rate Monitor

When I’m BMFing, I turn my Garmin watch face to the heart rate screen. This is so I don’t end up looking at it and realising there is still 40 minutes left!

I’ve been hearing about heart rate zones for years. I came to discover when I wrote my post on the PB (PR) trap, that I was running in the “grey zone”. An area where always running at a higher intensity does not improve your aerobic system more. It just wears you out.

The articles coming out about the Nike Breaking2 attempt show how slow the athletes ran in training and how important their recovery days are. Though the Kenyans and Ethiopians are unlikely to use heart monitors, they could help them confirm they’re running at the right intensity.

Maximum Heart Rate

The common and simple belief behind calculating your max heart rate was – Maximum heart rate (HR Max) of 220 minus your age. This is not particularly accurate and doesn’t take into to account your base fitness.

There is a different way that does take into account base fitness, via your max heart rate and resting heart rate to calculate your heart rate reserve (HRR). Also known as the Karvonen method.

Heart Rate Reserve

To calculate your HRR it is simply –

((HR Max – HR Rest) x % intensity) + HR Rest

The best way to get your HR Max is via a stress test. Firstly, you need a gym or a lab and it probably costs and secondly, you may not fancy running to absolute exhaustion. So we’ll go with HR Max of 220 minus your age.

To get your HR Rest. Take your pulse or heart rate when getting out of bed in the morning or you are at lying down resting. Take it a couple of times and average it out.

Calculating your zones or target heart rate (THR)

This is the formula again

((HR Max – HR Rest) x % intensity) + HR Rest

So for a 30 year old with a resting heart rate of 60

  • 65% Intensity: ((190 − 60) × 0.65) + 60 = 144 bpm
  • 85% Intensity: ((190 − 60) × 0.85) + 60 = 170 bpm

Comparing to standard HR Max (same age)

  • 65% Intensity: (220 − 30) × 0.65) = 124 bpm
  • 85% Intensity: (220 − 30) × 0.85) = 162 bpm

As you can see there is a fair bit of difference, especially with the lighter intensity.

What are the zones?

Heart Rate IS 2

Once you’ve calculated your zones, you can program most running watches so they will alert you if you are falling outside the required zone.

Your heart rate could be increased if you are-

  • Dehydrated
  • At altitude
  • In a hot and humidity environment
  • Still recovering from a particularly hard previous session

Using heart rate zones is a good way to confirm if you are running at the right intensity for what you are trying to achieve. You should still run on how you feel though. Listen to your body and don’t overdo it. The hard days should be hard and the easy day should be very easy.

Now where’s that instruction manual!

Joining a Running Club – Should you?

Running Club

I recently attended a few running club sessions over the last couple of weeks at the Wimbledon Windmilers.

If you’re contemplating joining a running club and what to move on with your running. Here are some thoughts that have been going around my head for a while now, as I’ve tried to make a decision. Continue reading “Joining a Running Club – Should you?”

London 10 Mile Race Recap 4/6/17 – The New Distance One

.London 10 Start

The price of entry to big races is getting expensive. Everyone wants great locations, closed roads, clinical organisation, loads of toilets, goody bags and big medals.

The Entry

The price to enter the London 10 mile was £44 and then they also sneaked on a £2.53 processing fee! Something that’s common and really annoying for music gigs, but nothing I’ve come across at running events. It didn’t stop me or plenty of others though. Continue reading “London 10 Mile Race Recap 4/6/17 – The New Distance One”

Foam Rolling – Can it help recovery?

.Foam Rolling

Foam rolling has become more popular and it made me think if self-massage is good for you.

Would you let an inexperienced physiotherapist or masseuse loose on your body or would you seek out someone with the relevant qualifications and experience?

I’ve foam rolled on and off for a few years and tend to do it most when my legs are really sore.

What is Foam rolling?

Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release (SMR) using a plastic cylinder wrapped in foam.

Myo denotes muscle. Continue reading “Foam Rolling – Can it help recovery?”

Phones – Weapons of Mass Distraction

Tied to phone

Next time you’re on a train. Look around you. Everyone’s on their phones. It’s a bit eerie!

That pocket-sized supercomputer that contains your life. 1,270 times faster than the Apollo 11 guidance computer that guided man to the moon in 1969.

I often say –

“What the hell did we do before mobile phones?”

It’s difficult to remember. You had to make arrangements to meet someone and stick to it. Actually turn up on time. You had to use a map or ask for directions. You carried a separate camera. Continue reading “Phones – Weapons of Mass Distraction”

Refocusing – Getting back on the horse

Hackney Refocusing

Around the blogosphere, there seems to have been a few race and marathon disappointments. I have had a few of these myself recently.

As disappointing as it is to work towards something, and not achieve your goal. It’s not good to dwell on it too long.

What is shows is that you’ve put in the hard work, just how f*ckin’ hard it is and what it takes to get those times. Continue reading “Refocusing – Getting back on the horse”

Hackney Half Race Recap 30/04/17 – The run on feel one

Hackney Half Start

The build up

What’s the best prep for your race tomorrow? Staying up till 2.30am dancing the night away at your friends 40th birthday party and getting 3 ½ hours’ sleep? Yep, that’s it. No excuses. I knew what I was doing. Just a couple of little beers and lots of water!

It was an early start on Sunday morning to get over to East London. I didn’t know where I was going, so built in a little safety. My kit was ready (number already pinned on) so jumped in the shower to wake up, got dressed, grabbed my bag and breakfast out of the fridge and was gone.

By the time I got to the Tube at Waterloo, most of the carriage was filled with runners, Continue reading “Hackney Half Race Recap 30/04/17 – The run on feel one”

Metabolism – Can you eat what you like?

Kotlet - Metabolism

I started writing at Christmas as a response to the seasonal overindulgence, but it can refer to any time of the year.

When I started this blog I mentioned that I had lost 12kg and got myself into fairly decent shape. It took a fair bit of effort, hard work and sacrifice to do this. When you drop weight or get in shape, you tell yourself that you’re going to maintain it and not let it slide.

This is very much easier said than done.

Over the Christmas period, I put on 4kgs (this could have been creeping up well before Christmas). I also got a bit of a shock following a blood test when I found out my cholesterol was above the desirable level by a fair few points.

I have all the obvious excuses (that are fairly solid around Christmas). Too many parties, too much booze, not eating probably at home, eating leftover cakes/biscuits, going to bed late, missing runs and training! I had an idea I was over indulging but not quite to the extent I did.

One of the reasons I got caught out was thinking –

“Because I exercise. I can eat what I what”

When Michael Phelps was 23 and training for the Beijing Olympics he claimed to have a diet containing 12,000 calories (hard to believe). Eight years later at the age of 31 and in the build up to Rio in 2016, he had to be much smarter about his food choices and his calorie intake had dropped to 3,500 (easier to believe)

Chicken Nuggets

When Usain Bolt won his first Olympic 100m title in 2008 at Beijing, he apparently consumed chicken nuggets a few hours before the race. As he gets older, I suspect that he’ll not be doing that this summer as he goes for his 4th world title in London at the age of 30.

Whilst I’m not the most decorated Olympian of all time or the fastest man of all time, I do have something in common with them. As we get older our metabolisms are slowing. So, we all need to pay attention to our diets. I need to get rid of the idea that because I run a few times a week, I can eat like a teenager whenever I like.

What is your metabolism?

The NHS describes metabolism as all the chemical processes that go on continuously inside the body to keep you alive and your organs functioning normally, such as breathing, repairing cells and digesting food.

These chemical processes require energy. The minimum amount of energy your body requires to carry out these chemical processes is called the basal metabolic rate (BMR).

Your BMR accounts for anything between 40% and 70% of your body’s daily energy requirements depending on your age and lifestyle. Muscle cells require more energy to maintain than fat cells, so people with a higher muscle to fat ratio tend to have a higher BMR.

As we get older, we tend to gain fat and lose muscle. This explains why the BMR tends to decrease with age. There’s no an exact age for when your metabolism starts to slow, but it is fairly safe to say it is between 20 and 30 years old.

I agree with the quote –

“You can’t out train a bad diet”

You can give it a go (and I have) but it is bloody hard. For every sneaky McDonalds Double Cheeseburger you munch, that’s 445 calories you need to burn off by running for around 30 mins.

Can you do anything about it?

I don’t want to go into what you should and shouldn’t eat. Let’s just say it should be a balanced diet. You should not eat too much and fruit and vegetables are good. Nothing here we all don’t know.

Whilst you can’t control your metabolism, you can do plenty of things to help it.

Exercise – Be it running, cycling or strength work. It builds muscle and consumes calories.

Stop making so much food – I have a tendency to do this. Just a few more potatoes. I’ll put that second pizza on, just in case!

Eat a reasonable portion and don’t make seconds – If there is nothing left, you can’t eat it. If there is you will. If you think you want more, leave it 15 minutes for the signals to get from your stomach to your brain that you feel full.

Richmond Half Finish

Since Christmas and focussing on the spring running season, I have shifted a few of those kilos and I’m probably back to my optimum weight.

It shows how easy it is to let the focus on your health and fitness slip which in turn can let you goals slip away too.

The PB (PR) Trap – Easy run or hard run?


Note – PB – (Personal Best) in the UK. Known as PR – (Personal Record) in the US

When you start running, every race results in a PB. A lot of the time it comes down to doing the distance for the first time. Then even some half-arsed training leads to good gains and huge chunks being slashed off your PB.

The PBs keep coming and coming and you feel great and progress is being made. Every time you step to the line, you feel you have a PB in you. Continue reading “The PB (PR) Trap – Easy run or hard run?”